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4.08  ·  Rating details ·  353 ratings  ·  94 reviews
An m/m World War II-era retelling of Beauty and the Beast.

During a chance summer shower, an English country parson takes refuge in a country house. The house seems deserted, yet the table is laid with a sumptuous banquet such as the parson has not seen since before war rationing.

Unnerved by the uncanny house, he flees, but stops to pluck a single perfect rose from the
Kindle Edition, 121 pages
Published May 5th 2018
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Average rating 4.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  353 ratings  ·  94 reviews

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Francesca Forrest
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
(This review duplicates what's in this Dreamwidth entry.)

Briarley retells the story of Beauty and the Beast, imagining what might happen if Beauty’s father was man enough not to let his daughter sacrifice herself for him. Instead, he stays in her place.

In this retelling, it’s World War II, and the father is a parson who’s also a veteran of the Great War, and the beast takes the form of a dragon.

You know this is going to be a different type of retelling by the parson’s initial reaction to the
Camilla Monk
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Just completely unexpected. Aster Glenn Gray re-imagines the eternal tale of the Beauty and the Beast in the countryside of warn-torn 1940 England. Is it corny at times? Obviously, as one expects. But it's mostly the smart, insightful, bittersweet and funny journey of a solitary dragon and the no-nonsense parson he kidnaps, and who won't trade his daughter's life for his. So the Parson stays, worms his way into the dragon's tiny, isolated world, and it's just pure pleasure to see them debate of ...more
I'm going to put Briarley up there with the most original retellings of "Beauty and the Beast" I've read, because of the setting and the pairing as much as for the plot.

It's set in the English countryside during World War II, and despite the location sparing them from the most severe hardships of it, the war isn't absent from the story. It's there in the rationing, in the necessity for the young ones to go to the frontlines to fight or to nurse, and in the aerial dogfights betweeen the Luftwaffe
May 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, e-book
A retelling of Beauty and the Beast where the beast is a dragon and the traveller a village parson who refuses to trade his daughter's freedom for his own? Where he stays with the beast himself and they have discussions on the nature of love and its varying forms? And also it's set in England during World War II? Clearly, I must read this immediately.

I am here to tell you that it is every bit as delightful as I'd hoped. The fairytale tone is charming without being twee, Briarley Hall has just
Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
OK, so Beauty and the Beast, but the dad doesn't sell out his daughter. And the beast is a dragon. And it's WWII, so you gotta fight some Nazis.

I don't know what else to tell you. This rules.
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beauty and the Beast retellings always attract my attention, however full of questionable morals the original tale was. Remove the Stockholm Syndrome part and give the story a fresh twist and you'll have an enthusiastic reader in me.
This was the case for Briarley. The twist was in the setting (England during WWII) and in the protagonists (an older man instead of a young girl as the Beast's "captive") - and it worked perfectly well. The romance was a slow-burn, and I loved the book's touches of
Rachel Reid
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was so sweet!
Helen Kord
May 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was absolutely beautiful. Gentle, smart and kind towards it's characters, with a wonderful slow-burn romance between an older disabled WW1 vet and a dragon, with an almost fairy tale atmosphere? It doesn't get more Helena-baity than that!

Edit for a reread: wow this book is even BETTER on a reread, how is that possible?
The romance part of it wasn't convincing, AT ALL!
Leigh Kramer
This was so lovely that I have to take a moment to reflect upon said loveliness. Briarley is worth every penny and I need you all to read it. It's a MM Beauty & The Beast retelling set during WWII. All the more impressive is this is a novella. It’s one of the best historical romances I’ve ever read, as well as one of the best BATB retellings I’ve ever read.

The author reinterprets the source material in ways that give it so much more nuance. It’s thoroughly feminist, right down to the parson
Really I would like to tell you everything that happened in this book, just like I did for my unfortunate partner and the checker at the pet store who I saw immediately after finishing (we swap book and fic recs all the time, it's fine). But it was so very delightful for ME to be continuously surprised that I will not do that to you.

At some point I must have known some of the major plot points, like who the love interest was? But I didn't retain them at all, so at each new page I was like,
Rene Sears
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2018
I picked up Briarley on a whim--I think I saw a rec on twitter about retold fairy tales?--and oh, am I glad I did. This is an absolutely lovely WWII retelling of Beauty and the Beast. A parson with an injured leg from WWI takes shelter from a storm in what appears to be an abandoned manor house. When the rain clears, he picks a rose to take back to his daughter. But of course, at that moment, the Beast (in this case a dragon/man) swoops in to call him a thief and tell him that the only way he'll ...more
Pam Faste aka Peejakers
Oh! This was really beautiful! And so deeply touching.*sniffles shamelessly*. A particularly lovely take on Beauty and The Beast, with seriously, the best kind of beast ever, and just such an original approach, and choice for the role of the "beauty". It was funny too, and a quiet, companionable kind of love story, as much about friendship & so many other kinds of love as it is about romance. I really love this so much.

Janine Ballard
Mar 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-releases
4 stars

don’t read a lot of m/m, but I love fairy-tale retellings and the concept of one set in the English countryside during the World War II blitz was different enough that I read a sample. I loved the author’s way with fairy-tale-style narration, so I ordered the entire novella.

It’s a lovely retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and the central and POV character is a widowed, middle-aged parson with a daughter named Rose. As in Beauty and the Beast, the parson plucks a rose to give to his
Oct 18, 2018 rated it liked it
This fantasy for grownups gives a new twist to a Beauty and the Beast enchantment. Set in England during the WW II German air raids, it concerns a young man called Briarley who in 1840 was turned into a dragon and his staff made invisible because a magical beggar was not treated with kindness. The enchantment is to remain in place for 100 years unless the dragon learns to love and be loved. It is now 1940, and time is almost up. It looks like Briarley, his house, grounds, and servants will all ...more
Jul 09, 2018 rated it liked it
I am not always the quickest to pick up on things. So when I say that it took reading three Beauty and the Beast retellings to realize it's not the retellings I don't like, but the original Beauty and the Beast story, that's not out of character for me.

I just don't like Beauty and the Beast, no matter how supposedly well done it is. Everything bad that happens at the beginning are the character's own faults, and then no one is given any agency for the entire rest of the fairy tale plot. And
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Saps who love fairytales
Omg what a surprising DELIGHT!

5 full stars!

I happened upon this book when bookbub sent an email saying see what new book Courtney Milan recommends!

I was expecting a M/F 1800s historical romance not THIS:
-beauty and the beast retelling (with some really unique spins on it. Such as:)
-beast is a dragon
-the servants have their own unique curse and reason for being cursed
-set during..1940s WWII...
-a preacher/parson MC
-said MC is all about his daughter leading her own life and not taking his
Miss Susan
Sep 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbtqia
this is a very lovely take on beauty and the beast in which the romance feels sort of...incidental?

like the review that sold me on it didn't even mention this was m/m and having read it i see why, it's funny and thoughtful and talks about love and morality and honestly if the parson and the dragon hadn't kissed at the end the story wouldn't have suffered in the least

4 stars
This one sits around a...3.67 for me, so I decided to round up. The story is beautiful and I really enjoyed the interactions between the characters, but something was missing and I’m not sure what. Maybe another fifty pages would have done the trick...
DNF at 20%, just couldn't get into the writing. I know it's meant to have a fairy tale feel to it but it kind of gets on my nerves that the main character just keeps being referred to as "the parson".
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beyond lovely

I've always had a fondness for Beauty and the Beast retellings. This one had me crying happy tears at the slow building of their friendship into love.

Also, Daisy the dog and her roller skate.
Gorgeous, gorgeous retelling of the Beauty and the Beast set in WWII-era England, with a parson as Belle and a dragon-man as Beast. A gentle, funny, beautifully written version of the tale.
May 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2019
Sweet m/m retelling of Beauty and the Beast, set during WWII. I really enjoyed it, but it ends quite abruptly. Would have liked to see a bit more wrap up.
Jan 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: r-queer-protag
1. That was very cute.

2. Briarley is yet another Beauty and the Beast retelling. And this is not a complaint, because I have yet to reach a point where I say ENOUGH to BatB retellings. BatB is one of the best stories to retell you guys there is so much room for character development and whatnot and I live for authors subverting the stockholm syndrome accusation that keeps getting leveled at the story.

3. Okay so the best thing about fairytale retellings are the deviations. You know that thing-
Jul 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle, 2018-release
Fun, quirky little read, although ultimately very predictable.
Jul 02, 2018 rated it liked it
3 stars

This is a decent re-telling of Beauty & The Beast but it didn’t exactly wow me. Maybe you have to be a fan of the source material (or the Disney version at least) for it to really impress, but I thought it was merely okay.
Elizabeth A
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Great concept. I loved Gray's take on the magic which covers the castle and its inhabitants. The way the curse behaves in this story is quite honestly enchanting and gives the maximum number of people agency in each of their personal situations, which is great. Also I loved the parson as a character, and also as a mentoring figure who steps up for our young queer Beast & tells him no, your desires are not a sin, you are not broken, you are capable of loving and being loved.

Still, I thought
PJ Who Once Was Peejay
Oct 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderfully told story: a m/m beauty and the beast set in World War II. It's fresh and original and so full of heart, even though it is retelling familiar material.

Ms. Gray's writing is quite lovely, and her characters so well rounded and believable, even given the fantasy setting. I fell in love with them as they fell in love with each other.
A sweet, thoughtful, and charming M/M novella retelling of Beauty & the Beast, which is my favorite fairytale to begin with, and this version avoids several of the elements that make some analyses critical of the root storyline. The setting is England during WWII, with rationing and blackout regulations, and homosexuality still seriously condemned. The romance is slow-burn, with no more than some kisses in the end.

Its slant on the fairytale is well-conceived: the lead character (all he's
Jun 14, 2018 rated it liked it
I hoped to like it more
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